It’s tempting to view what Grant Holloway did over the weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships-- 7.35 American record in the 60m hurdles and a 6.50 60m victory, plus third place finishes in the long jump and 4x400m-- as a man at the peak of his powers. But for an athlete with medal potential at October’s World Championships, the Florida superstar may only be scratching the surface of his ceiling in 2019.
🔥🔥🔥 Going to bring American hurdling back to the top! https://t.co/SId3DGk8rl— David Oliver (@doliversub13) March 10, 2019
A 60m hurdles American record and the No. 3 spot on the all-time list is a nice reward for an indoor season that for the first time featured a completely healthy build-up, but the mission Holloway set to Florida head coach Mike Holloway upon his arrival at college was to become the unequivocal top 110m hurdler in the world, and to that the elder Holloway said there is still plenty of work to be done.
“It’s indoors and indoors is not really an indicator totally of what we can do outdoors,” the Florida coach said after winning NCAAs. “We’ve got to find a way to take this performance and take it to the outdoor season. I think the biggest thing for him right now is he has to retool and get back to a situation where we get back to training because we’ve got five more hurdles to get ready for.”
The 21-year-old enters the spring with an ambitious goal of breaking the 13.00 110m hurdles collegiate record. Only one man in each of the last three seasons has run sub-13.00, so hitting that mark would put Holloway closer than he’s ever been to standing atop the high hurdling world. The junior intimated after NCAAs that 2019 would be his last as a collegiate, so it’s clear he believes he’ll be there by this summer.
In the meantime, we can only project how Holloway’s indoor success will translate to the outdoor season. But a seemingly reasonable expectation is for Holloway to lower his 110m hurdles PB by a similar percentage to his 60m hurdles improvement from 2018 to this season; by applying the 0.94% gap between 7.35 and 7.42 (2018 60mH best) to his 13.15 110m hurdles PR, Holloway should expect to seriously challenge sub-13.00 in 2019:
Holloway will no doubt be disappointed if his PR still begins with a “13” once the collegiate season wraps up as he will have fallen short of breaking Renaldo Nehemiah’s 40-year-old NCAA record, but his indoor season shows that he should at minimum put a scare into the hallowed sub-13.00 barrier.
That would put the 21-year-old close to the level of guys like 2017 World champion Omar McLeod (12.90 PR) and 2018 world leader Sergey Shubenkov (12.92 PR), the two co-favorites for World Championship gold in Doha.
Of course, this projection is conservative if you simply compare Holloway to the 110m hurdles PRs of the men surrounding him on the all-time 60mH list. 2008 110mH Olympic champion Dayron Robles sits one spot ahead of Holloway at 7.33, and he owns a 12.87 110mH best. Both of Robles’ best times were run in the same season. 7.30 World record holder Colin Jackson’s 110m PR isn’t far off at 12.91.
But as Mike Holloway said, indoors doesn’t necessarily translate perfectly to outdoors, so a period of adjustment is to be expected for his pupil as he transitions to the longer distance. But for an athlete with Grant Holloway’s experience, it’s hard to imagine him not riding his record-breaking indoor fitness to a record-breaking outdoor season by June.